By: Condor Ferries on 26/10/2011

Man on a mission

Nigel Mansell, OBE has recently completed the supreme challenge of cycling 1200 miles in 13 days around the UK in a quest to raise funds for UK Youth - a charity which aims to change perceptions about young people and invest in their potential. Condor Ferries journalist, Anouska catches up with him at Big Maggy’s Coffee Shop in St Helier.

For a man that has just completed 1,200 miles in 13 days, you seem extremely healthy and relaxed.
It was an incredible 13 days and the hardest of my life – I got to the point where I wasn’t sure what bit of me hurt most, but I made it and the finish at Buckingham Palace was amazing. I want to thank both my sons and Magnus Backstedt and Ian Williams of Big Maggy’s for their support along every mile of the Challenge for the charity UK Youth.

You moved to Jersey a number of years ago now – what makes you feel so settled here on the island?
We moved to Jersey 14 years ago now. It is an incredible place to live with a wonderful quality of life and considerably warmer than England. There is just so much that you can do on the island - it is just fantastic.

Your two sons, when they left home, have also decided to stay on Jersey – what do you think they find, as young people, that is so attractive about Jersey?
It is quality of life and variety. There are so many opportunities for young people and so many sports to become involved in. The quality of the sporting facilities is second to none in Jersey. We are all really into cycling in a very big way and are members of the Cycle Club of Jersey where we have a really great time. I am still recovering from the Challenge, but my sons are already back to training for the next Jersey cycling event.

What is your favourite spot on Jersey?
Beauport Bay is just wonderful and every time I have to leave the island, I look forward to my first view of the Bay on my return.

Which is your favourite restaurant for a quiet meal out?
For me it is definitely at home. Roseanne, my wife, is a superb cook and so I am thoroughly spoilt with all the food I get at home.

While you were training for your Nigel Mansell UK Youth Cycle Challenge you have been cycling along a lot of the roads on Jersey – have you found any new favourite view or spots on the island?
Yes many. Although having lived here for as long as we have I still find new ways of getting lost all the time. Jersey is full of variety and I fi nd I enjoy driving round the island.

What is your wife’s favourite place on the island?
Beauport Battery is probably her favourite.

You are a passionate golfer – do you enjoy playing on Jersey?
Yes, I am a member of La Moye which is a great club with great people and the course provides a fantastic challenge to your game.

What do you enjoy most about the island?
The quality of life you get here, with clean beaches and beautiful crystal clear blue seas. There are also fantastic walks that are always so close to home. The people of Jersey are also very welcoming and friendly and I have gained many good friends while living here.

You have been racing for 5 decades now – what is it that you find about motorsport that keeps you racing?
I guess adrenalin is the only legalised drug in the world, and so still having the will to compete keeps me going back.

Both your sons are now motorsport racers – how to you feel as a parent watching them race?
Naturally very proud, but also worried as any parent would feel but if they are doing what they want to do then I am very happy for them.

If you were able to return to F1, which car would you wish to be in?
Either the Red Bull or McLaren this year as they have been exceedingly quick and dominating cars in 2010.

What do you think of the modern world of Motorsport?
It is very different to the days when I was at the height of my career, with some great technology advancements – some of which are good for the sport and some aren’t. Some of the best improvements are with safety, but these days the cars are far more complex technologically and so, although racing is still as exciting, you are not driving by talent alone, but supported by a great team of experts who can see the way the car is handling and can make adjustments to get the best out of the cars.

You run a karting circuit on the mainland at Dunkeswell – why is karting important to you?
It is the grass roots of all racing and karting is where Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Ayrton Senna, myself and many other drivers cut their teeth in motorsport.

Nigel Mansell’s UK Youth Cycle Challenge

When did you first get to know about UK youth?
It was 25 years ago and I have supported it for many years with the honour of being President for eight years now, as they are a charity that really does support the young people of Britain.

You are a very active President – what do you get involved with?
Pretty much everything and in this centenary year I have devoted most of my time to UK Youth, visiting Youth Achievement Centres, working with young people through the charities First Gear programme and visiting young people in prison and, in addition, I run a very successful golf tournament which is now in its 15th year to gain more corporate support for the charity and to get as many as I can to know what the charity does.

You have just completed an extreme Cycle Challenge of 1,200 miles around Britain in 13 days, without a days rest – what made you decide to do something so extreme?
The Cycle Challenge is so important to me and yes it was extreme, averaging upwards of 100 miles a day for 13 days without a stop but that’s what positive for youth is all about - doing something which is close to impossible just takes a little longer. But this can motivate and raise peoples’ aspirations and awareness and for young men and young women this is so important. I hope that when young people see what I did on the Challenge they will think that if Nigel can do this at his age then we can do anything.

Your recent accident at the 2010 Le Mans 24hr gave you quite a concussion, and yet you still completed the Cycle Challenge?
This is our centenary year for UK Youth and our slogan is “Positive For Youth”. If we don’t invest in the youth of this country then we are not investing in life – they are our future and yes, I fully admit I was not at my best for the ride and was still suffering from the side effects of concussion, but I would never let down the young men and women of this country. I for one salute them and implore them to sometimes help themselves, to raise their aspirations, realise their potential and work hard at getting their achievements recognised. So I really did all this for them.

Thank you for your time and good luck with all you do for UK Youth.

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